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Show Notes

Today, Harlan and Miranda are joined by Monica Louie to talk about it can change your life to be your own boss, and how to build up the courage and strength to make the change. What does it take to leave the everyday world of working behind and make it on your own?

We’ll take a look at Monica’s journey, and what you can do to be your own boss. Plus, Harlan and Miranda share a little bit about their own journeys as well.

If you want to conquer Facebook Ads, take a look at Flourish with Facebook Ads, Monica’s new course. Monica helps Adulting.tv with our own advertising, which has been very successful.

Monica Louie is a Facebook ads coach and strategist who helps ambitious online entrepreneurs grow their impact and their profits with the power of Facebook ads. She has worked on more than 100 Facebook ad campaigns, including several traffic campaigns with cost per click as low as $0.01 and conversion campaigns with cost per result as low as $0.30. Her online journey began in 2015 when she shared how her family paid off $120,000 of debt in two years on a single, middle-class income. When she’s not playing in the Power Editor, she can be found hiking in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, dog, and two kids.

https://www.facebook.com/FlourishwithMonica/
https://twitter.com/MonicaRLouie
https://www.monicalouie.com/
https://flourishwithfbads.com

Hosted byHarlan L. Landes and Miranda Marquit
Produced byadulting.tv
Edited and mixed bySteve Stewart
Music bybensound.com

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Being a solopreneur is pretty great. Except when it’s not.

We hear a lot about starting a business online and becoming your own boss. In fact, this trend is so prevalent now that it’s got its own term: solopreneur.

Most of the time, I love working from home. I also making money (mostly) on my terms. Before you decide that being a solopreneur is the move for you, here are some of the realities involved.

You set your own schedule.

One of my favorite things about being on my own is the fact that I get to set my own schedule. Since I started working for a company as a W-2 employee again there are a few more restrictions, but I work from home and still get to set my own schedule much of the time.

As a solopreneur, you have freedom and flexibility to work when you want — and from where you want. It’s freedom, and one of the things I treasure most.

Sometimes you have to work even when you don’t want to.

Ok, this is true whether you have a real job or whether you’re a solopreneur. You just have to suck it up and work sometimes.

But when you have a real job, the assumption is that you can clock out at some point and take a break. When you have a business, that’s not always the case. You might be up late working, even if you want to sleep. I can’t tell you how often I work on the weekend.

You have to force yourself to work sometimes, even if it’s the last thing you want to do. And sometimes, especially at first, you find yourself working more than you ever did while holding down a regular job.

Get ready for the self-employment tax.

One thing you don’t think about when you’re working for The Man is that your company is paying half your payroll taxes. When you’re working for yourself, you pay both parts of payroll taxes.

It’s important to be prepared. You could see a higher tax bill when you quit your job, just because you no longer have an employer subsidizing part of your taxes.

Set aside money each month to go toward taxes. I like to set aside about a third of my monthly income to go toward taxes (you might feel more comfortable adjusting this amount). And remember: you should pay quarterly to reduce the chance of problems with the IRS. Plan ahead of time to avoid money problems down the road.

Sometimes it feels like you have several bosses.

Be your own boss! You’re totally in charge!

The reality for many solopreneurs is that it can feel like you’ve got multiple bosses. There are days when I’m wrestling with multiple deadlines for different clients. I definitely don’t feel like I’m my own boss in those situations!

For freelancers, it’s common to feel as though you have more than one boss. The bright side, though, is that you have the chance to fire an unreasonable client down the road when you start seeing success.

Making money online takes more than just setting up a website.

Online entrepreneurs make it look so easy. Just set up your website and boom. The money rolls in.

But does it, really?

Sure. After you’ve put in the work. And it can take years to find success with your website or store. It can happen faster, of course, but it takes work. You need to market your website, services, and products — just like any other business.

You need a plan. You need to do the work. And you need to be realistic. If you build it, they aren’t guaranteed to come. You have to entice them.

It can get lonely cooped up in your home office.

I love working from home. And part of the reason I started doing the online thing was to avoid having to people on a regular basis.

But even introverts get lonely. We need to talk to people sometimes, too. As a solopreneur, though, that human contact might not be as frequent as you’d like.

You can ease the pain a bit by heading to a co-working space or a coffee shop. Meetups, conferences, and video calls can also help. Plus, if you have a life partner who works from home, that can provide you with support as well. Of course, having your life partner at home all the time with you can have its own drawbacks.

Your friends and family just don’t get what you do.

Working online as a solopreneur is hard to explain to friends and family. I’ve got people assuming I can just drop everything and do things for them left and right.

And my IRL acquaintances think what I do is a quaint hobby. Um, no, I support my family.

Trying to explain what I do to my grandma? She didn’t think I’d “made it” until she actually saw my name in the newspaper.

Luckily, as the internet becomes an increasingly acceptable way to make a living, and as the gig economy becomes a Thing, it’s easier to explain what I do. But sometimes it can be truly maddening.

It’s possible to go to the spa on Thursday.

Have I mentioned how much I enjoy a flexible schedule?

This is my favorite reality of being a solopreneur. I love going to the spa on Thursday. I can almost always get an appointment, there aren’t many people there, and I can truly relax while my son is at school. It’s perfect.

Maybe the spa isn’t your thing. Maybe it’s golf. Or going to lunch with a friend. Perhaps you just want to go for a hike or play paintball. Whatever it is, go wild.

Just realize that you might have to make up for it by working on Sunday afternoon.

All your friends are working when you want to play.

It’s nice that you can go to a matinee movie on Wednesday afternoon. But you better like going alone. Because your friends with real jobs are all working.

This is a tough reality for many solopreneurs. They’re so excited that they can set a schedule to their liking, but what happens when everyone else is still on the 9-to-5 grind?

I get around it by meeting friends for lunch near their workplaces so we can enjoy a little time together. You can also find other friends to do things with, or even learn to be your own best friend.

You are responsible for your success.

This is the biggest, scariest, harshest reality of being a solopreneur. It’s also the most liberating aspect of being out there on your own. The fact that you are totally in charge of your own success is a huge deal — and it can make you or break you.

I love thinking that I can chart my own course. Even if you are still working your real job, and your solopreneurship is mostly in the side hustle stage right now, you are still taking control of your future success.

To me, even though there are hard realities associated with doing what I do, the biggest reality is also the most encouraging reality.

Are you a solopreneur? Tell us your story in the #Adulting community on Facebook

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Your blog is great but no one knows it. People need to know about your work. Get your social media game up.

This blogger makes $111,000 a month. This guy makes $17 million a year. She makes a good six-figures a month.

Blogging is fun and a great way to make money if you do it right, but the path from $0, or from being in the red because of start-up costs, to three figures per month can be elusive.

What should a new blogger consider to go from red, or flat, to black? A critical component of a blogging strategy is social media strategy.

The blogosphere is part of the virtual world. Therefore, it’s important to use virtual marketing in a way that lets the virtual world know you exist and how you help your readers.

As personal finance bloggers who talk to the LGBT community, what’s worked for us and the bloggers above have been different. Based on your blog’s focus, personality, and audience, you will also need to develop a unique social media plan.

You may need to nuance what I write below to better target your demographic. But, this will give you some direction from my personal experience.

Social media is plain marketing.

At its simplest, a social media strategy is just marketing. It’s different (but not much different) than when businesses pay for advertisements on the radio or television.

But, this is why I love the new gig-economy so much – the barrier to start a business today is so much lower than in the past. Unlike the old economy when you needed a lot of money to advertise on the radio and television, which could take all your revenue or savings, you don’t need to invest thousands of dollars into advertising today. You can start with a few advertising dollars and then scale up as your business grows.

Besides cost, compared to traditional advertising, another difference lies is in the name. Social media lets you be social with your readers, listeners, followers, or whatever you call the people you connect with and serve. The ability to engage with your audience is HUGE. You can talk one-on-one with them. You can follow them on social media, as they follow you, and it’s not creepy.

Engaging on social media is great because it lets you learn about your audience, how they talk and what they need. Learning about your audience helps you create the content, products, and services they need.

Rather than investing thousands of dollars in market research about a product or service you want to provide, a simple poll on Facebook or Twitter with an $100 Amazon gift card is all you need.

So, what social media strategies do you need? That depends on who you are, what you blog about, and where your audience is.

No matter what, you probably need to be on Facebook.

There are two gigantic players in the virtual world and no matter your feelings towards them, you need to learn to live and work with them. They are Google and Facebook.

To work with Google, you’ll need to learn or hire someone who is good with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). For this article, we’ll focus on Facebook.

Yes, there are reports that Facebook usage is down and even lower for younger people, but to some extent, everyone is on Facebook. My 77-year-old mother and father just joined Facebook this summer. While they still don’t get it, they’re on Facebook, and they’re at least stalking people.

To promote your blog on Facebook, you’ll want to create a business page. For many reasons, I’d advise against mixing your blogger profile on your personal profile. However, the first people who will follow your business page will be your friends, family and colleagues. So, don’t be afraid to invite them from your business page to like your business page.

It is, however, okay to share some of your personal life on your business page. Personal updates as they relate to your blog topic are significant. The occasional quirky or non-blog topic related updates are engaging. Being too off topic too often, though, will confuse your audience.

For your lead image, so the virtual world knows you’re a human, it’s ideal to use your image. You can superimpose your blog or brand logo over your image, so the other humans learn your brand.

From your business page, hook and link to your latest blog article. Provide enough information on your Facebook post about your latest blog article that’ll capture your followers’ interest, then provide the link to your article followed by a period (.) so Facebook doesn’t make your link disappear.

Likewise, you’ll want to include an image on your Facebook post that ties with your latest blog article. The image size should be 940px x 492px and include zero to minimal verbiage. Facebook now owns Instagram and images with too many characters aren’t permitted on Instagram. Consequently, Facebook’s algorithms also won’t promote posts with images that have too much verbiage. This throttle will slow traffic to your blog.

Add Facebook Pixel to your blog. Just like social media allows you to engage with and learn more about your audience, Facebook Pixel lets you learn even more by capturing demographic information about who visits your blog. This additional information will help when you create ads with Facebook Audience to target your blog articles, products and services to specific audiences.

Every Facebook post on a business page can be boosted to reach a bigger audience. There’s a blue button at the bottom right of each post that says, creatively, “Boost.” This feature lets bloggers choose high-level demographic information (location, interests, age, etc.) to promote their post to particular audiences. This is ideal for getting started and requires a minimal investment of money.

That said, it seems that once Facebook learns a business page owner will pay to promote posts, it does whatever it can to incentivize more paid post promotions by that business owner. Keep that in mind before you start paying and make sure you’re prepared to pay more money more often.

Facebook Audience complements Facebook Pixel in that it lets bloggers drill deeper into the demographic information (income, the number of lines of credit, zip codes) of a blog’s audience captured by Facebook Pixel.

This level of information is helpful for all businesses, including bloggers, because you can target the right content, products, and services to the right audience, even more so than television advertising, and convert more traffic to your blog or sales of your goods and services.

Since you’re on Facebook, you may as well be on Instagram.

As I said, Facebook owns Instagram, and that’s why your images must be conducive to both social media platforms. Therefore, it makes sense to be on both. Consequently, there’s renewed interest in Instagram.

Instagram is where you share pictures and videos. This is especially ideal for food bloggers because who doesn’t love to look at or watch food? Instagram’s also good for fashion, photograph, and lifestyle bloggers. Essentially, any topic or niche with a good visual component is good for Instagram.

I’ll be honest, as a personal finance blogger, I’m still figuring out Instagram. Capturing the lifestyle component of being and living debt free seems to work. Also, appropriately using hashtags is important. For example, “#LGBT, #GayPride, #Homosexual” targets my images to people who use similar hashtags.

Twitter Is great for B2B.

Twitter is struggling to monetize itself, and it can feel like drinking from a fire hose, but Twitter is still relevant. A nightly news segment doesn’t go by that doesn’t include a tweet from some politician or celebrity, our current president notwithstanding.

For my business, Twitter has been great for connecting with other personal finance bloggers, investment firms, banks and financial publications, and influencers and celebrities. The relationships that I’ve built with investment companies and banks have been valuable to my business because they let me create brand ambassadorships that have made me good money.

Connecting with my fellow personal finance bloggers and celebrities has been icing on the dough. The connections I’ve made with financial publications have built my most consistent stream of income as a personal finance freelance writer.

Create a Twitter profile for your blog. Provide a brief profile description of who you are and what you do and, again, use a personal picture as the profile picture, so the Twitter-sphere knows you’re a human. Then, follow other bloggers in your niche, businesses you have an interest in and might be able to partner with, and other humans who you think may be interested in your blog.

For us, we frequently search “#LGBTQ or #gay” to find other LGBTQ people who may be interested in living successful financial lives.

After you follow people and businesses, engage with them. Like, comment on, and share their content. When you’ve engaged enough, occasionally tag them on a tweet that promotes a blog article of yours. Whether you tag anyone on a tweet or not, if you link to a blog article, write an enticing hook to your article in 140 characters or fewer.

Images, again, are necessary. Horizontal and clean are best.

Pinterest wants to be Google, so you may want to be on Pinterest.

Pinterest is investing a ton of money to be the alternative resource to Google and to appeal to men. Currently, most people on Pinterest are women. If you’re a women blogger blogging about any topic traditionally appealing to women: cooking, fashion, beauty products, home organization, etc., then you must be on Pinterest.

You may wonder why a gay personal finance blogger, who blogs for the LGBT community, has a social media presence on Pinterest. In 2015, Pinterest invested $15 million to connect specifically with men. Surely to holy Mother Nature, two to four percent of those men Pinterest reaches are gay.

Pinterest is uniquely more helpful to bloggers than any other social media platform because every other platform tries to keep its users on its platform. While the other social media platforms are essential in building an audience and traffic, the hoarding of traffic is a constant challenge for bloggers.

Pinterest, on the other hand, wants to lead its users to the content that’s most useful to its users with the long-game plan of being the alternative to, or replacing Google to its users.

Create a business account on Pinterest. Create up to ten boards that cover different topics related to your blog. This way people who visit your profile can see what you’re all about and then look and share your pins. For example, I have “Best of Debt Free Guys,” “Gay Travel,” “Money Podcasts” and more.

Describe who you are and what you do. Again, use a personal image on your profile. If you’re a straight man, it’s ideal if you include a picture with your wife or girlfriend and kids, if you have kids. The reason is that most Pinterest users are women and they typically think a Pinterest page by a man may not appeal to them. It’s branding, not sexism.

Post pins on your various boards as appropriate. Your pins should be “rich pins” – high-resolution images that relate and link to your blog article and are 1,000px x 2,000px.

This article includes enough information to start your social media strategy. One of the six-figure-a-month bloggers above has nailed the Pinterest strategy. So, click here, here, here and here to see what the pro is doing. That’s what I do.

Honorable mentions: LinkedIn and YouTube.

That’s my primary social media strategy. If your blog is more corporate-like or career-focused, you might try LinkedIn.

I dabble in YouTube videos but haven’t had the time to perfect them. I do okay in part because reading about money can be dry sometimes and videos let me inject even more personality than my writing. If you’re a beauty blogger/vlogger (video blogger), for example, YouTube may be the platform for you. Follow and learn from other vloggers.

Starting a social media strategy can feel daunting. I tried to start everything at once and failed several times. I’d recommend choosing one platform to start and then adding another platform once you get better with the previous platform. You may eventually learn that a platform you tried doesn’t work for you and that’s fine.

I’m glad I didn’t waste too much time on Periscope, even though when I saw U2 use it on their Denver visit, I was very tempted.

The important thing is that you start a blog because a blog is an excellent way to diversify your income stream or even replace the income stream you already have.

If you have a blog, how has social media – or the lack of a social media presence – affected your blog’s success? What is your favorite social media platform! Please share with us over at the #Adulting Facebook community.

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A resume is stale. Show who you really are. Learn how a blog can really make you shine.

So, is it time to update your resume and LinkedIn profile? You can do that, but it’s not enough.

No, really. Resumes are so 2009. LinkedIn profiles may be a little better.

What you need is a blog. Why? For starters, a blog is a more robust example of who you are and what you can do.

Improve and demonstrate your writing skills.

Good writing skills are essential for most jobs. Whether you’re a customer service representative, a journalist, or a team manager, your writing needs to be clear, accurate, and compelling – unless you’re a doctor.

Admittedly, far too much business today is done by email. That said, if your emails to clients are confusing or droll, you won’t be effective.

Rather than learn good writing skills on the job, learn at home. Your blog readers, who will likely be your friends and family at first, will let you know if your writing isn’t making sense. I won’t hear from friends or family for years, but I’ll get an email or direct message when they notice a mistake in my writing.

You don’t have to go solo, though, there are numerous online courses that you can take to help with your writing. Some are free. Some are cheap. A good writing course is worth it.

Improve and demonstrate your critical thinking skills.

Businesses are desperate for critical thinkers. Those who excel do more than regurgitate information. Hiring managers and business leaders want to know that their teams can manipulate and apply information and data in a way that’s useful and beneficial to the organization.

What better way to make sure you’re interpreting information accurately and coming to unique, valuable conclusions than to share your interpretations with the world on your blog and social media?

In 2011, when I posted my first blog post with my name on it, I had to work up the courage. I was concerned about what people would think. They might’ve thought my ideas were stupid, so I was prepared to rebut their rebuttals. They might’ve called out my writing, spelling and grammar skills, so I proofed, proofed and reproofed before I hit publish.

Hitting the publish button for the first time took me way too long. I’ve gotten much better in the last six years, and that’s a skill I can take to any job, whether I work for myself or someone else.

Show your personal brand.

Personal brands are gold these days. It’s harder for businesses today than generations past to market to and attract an audience. Unless it’s aired during the Super Bowl, a television commercial, like a resume, doesn’t carry the same weight as it once did. Therefore, businesses are looking for creative solutions to be recognized and to grow their buyers.

This is why a person with a solid personal brand is valuable to a business.

The best way to show potential business partners or employers your true self is with your blog. If an employer can scroll through even a few months of your blog, they’ll get a somewhat accurate understanding of who you are. Therefore, they’ll have a good idea if you can work together and, if so, of how you can work together.

Take, for example, a hair stylist. If a hair stylist, going through school, posts their work online and their work is consistently good or shows improvement, they can share their blog or portfolio with prospective employers and the hiring employer will have a good understanding of the candidate.

Build a following.

A personal brand backed by a substantial social media following is platinum. You don’t have to be an A-List YouTube star (if that’s such a thing). But, if you have an audience who likes and listens to you, you have leverage when business opportunities arise.

If that same hair stylist also posts their work on Instagram in addition to their blog, and they grow their Instagram following to one thousand, ten thousand, or more, they’re even more valuable to a prospective employer.

Also, the risk of failure for the stylist with the big Instagram following opening their own salon is less because they can guarantee a percentage of their followers will follow them to whatever salon they go.

Build a platform for your other skills.

In today’s economy, it’s good to have multiple streams of income. Employees no longer spend a lifetime working for the same employer. Even staying with the same job, within the same company for more than a few years is considered antiquated. The best way for employees to feel financially secure is to not rely on one source of income.

A blog is a great part-time job. Your blog can focus on your hobby, something entirely different from your day job. Or, it can complement what you do during the day.

Take, for example, someone who wants to be a nanny abroad. Thousands of people want to be nannies in different parts of the world. Being a nanny will be the prospective employee’s primary job. However, they could start a blog about how they went from the idea of becoming a nanny abroad to actually becoming a nanny abroad.

Blog readers can use the nanny’s blog as the template for how to become nannies themselves. Everyone can learn from the mistakes and successes of the nanny. The nanny can continue blogging about their experiences, what they like and don’t like, what they learn, and about other nanny jobs.

They could eventually monetize their nanny blog with ads and sponsored posts. They can become a resource for the nanny industry and write books, make videos, and become a speaker all because of a blog.

Have an accountability journal.

Another value of having a blog is that it can act as your accountability. If you’re striving to achieve a goal, such as paying off debt or losing weight, sharing your goals with the world makes it harder to quit when you don’t succeed as fast or as quickly as you’d like.

Likewise, people with the same or similar goals can act as your support, share their stories to help, and inspire you and others. Plus, everyone can learn from your trials and tribulations.

You can, essentially, create a community of people to help and uplift each other. Connecting with people because of your blog is even better than monetizing it.

Resumes are outdated.

Finally, resumes are static and stale. It’s easy to pad a resume and use the right words to make even the most mundane success seem incredible. Resumes won’t go away anytime soon because they’re an executive summary of your accomplishments.

A blog, though, has life and personality. It can demonstrate everything about you. To be sure, no recruiter or hiring manager will sift through every page of your blog and every video you create, but they don’t have to do all that.

Anyone considering hiring or working with you will easily and quickly get a sense of who you are from your blog. That’s why a blog is a nice complement to your resume.

So, don’t skip updating your resume or LinkedIn profile. But, complement them with a blog and stand out from others. Starting a blog isn’t as hard as you think and the value is more than worth it.

Have you seen success with a blog or have any questions about starting one? Let us know in the #Adulting Facebook community

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Cheap labor. People who love you. Hiring family members for your business seems like a slam dunk. Unfortunately, it isn’t. It could go very, very wrong.

If you’ve ever started a company, you’ve probably at least considered hiring family. Just about everyone has a sibling, cousin, or nephew who needs a job – and may even have the skills to make it work.

In some cases when you hire family members, the arrangement can be fantastic. Not only are you working with someone you presumably have a deep personal connection with, but you’re helping a loved one and getting an opportunity to spend more time with them.

If it goes sour, all of a sudden you’re spending Thanksgiving with your spouse’s family and explaining to every nosy second cousin what went wrong.

This is so situational – and so controversial – it’s hard to say for sure what the best option is.

Before you make a decision about whether or not to hire family members, carefully think through the situation. Here’s a detailed analysis of the pros and cons to help you decide what’s best for your business.

The advantages when you hire family members.

A family member is always more invested in your success than a random stranger, no matter how carefully vetted they are. When you’re starting a small business from scratch, you want your employees to care as much about the idea as you do.

Someone who you’ve known for your entire life is also more willing to be honest with you.

It’s hard to give a new boss criticism, but a family member shouldn’t have a problem speaking up when they feel you’re leading the ship astray.

Anytime you’re growing a business, you need those working under you to give real feedback, not just what you want to hear. A strange face might be hesitant to share a conflicting opinion, but not your big sister who grew up giving you wedgies.

One huge benefit to hiring someone close to you is that they probably need less time to settle into the business. It often takes a few months for you to feel comfortable with a new coworker, but your family member should be able to dive into the culture a lot faster.

Author and speaker Kylie Travers has hired her sisters off and on since 2009 when she first started her business. She’s never had issues with working with them.

“My sisters and I think alike so it was easier having them work for me than trying to explain everything to others,” she said.

The disadvantages when you hire family members.

The biggest downside to hiring a loved one to help you with a business is the looming question of how it will affect your relationship.

It’s easy to imagine a scenario where you all end up millionaires sipping cocktails on a beach, but it’s just as likely you’ll end up bankrupt and out of business.

The fact is, most startups fail. If you’ve asked your cousin to quit his or her day job to help you with your dream, they might be resentful if it doesn’t work out.

This is even more concerning if they’ve invested their own money in the company. Do you want to be responsible for your loved one losing their house because they sunk their finances into your startup?

Doug Nordman, blogger at The Military Guide and angel investor said he doesn’t think it makes sense to hire family members. In general, he doesn’t believe they should work together.

“Spouses or siblings are not necessarily a deal-killer, but at best it’s neutral and it’s usually a negative,” he said.

Another issue is the possibility of having to reprimand or even fire your relative.

When you disagree with an employee, the incident stays at work. When you argue with a coworker who’s also your little brother, the quarrel can follow you to the family wedding the next day, or that holiday dinner six months from now.

How to make it work.

If you’re worried about potential problems but still want to hire family members to help with your startup business, it’s imperative to talk it through beforehand. Ask about their working style, any issues they’ve had in the past, and anything they’re worried about.

You can also establish some ground rules, such as no business talk during family events and no venting to outside family members about work conflicts. If the venture goes south, you don’t want to suddenly divide the family between the two of you.

Damien Peters has worked with his brother several times, but never for long durations. Though they’re close, Peters said they think too differently to work together on a permanent or full-time basis. While Peters said that plenty of family members have issues being colleagues, not every family needs to avoid doing so.

“If it makes sense for your skills and relationship, try it out temporarily and set boundaries upfront,” he said.

Before you hire your loved ones, consider working together on a temporary basis.

Agree that if either person wants to terminate the arrangement at the end of the trial period, they can do so without backlash. That way, you can experience what it’s like to work together but not be committed right off the bat.

In the end, you have to do what’s best for your business and your family relationships. You can’t get caught up in trying to force the situation if it’s just not working. With a little experimentation, you can figure out pretty quickly if it makes sense to hire family members for your business.

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Want to make more money without the hassle of a second job? A little ingenuity can go a long way. You might be surprised at what’s available to you.

I became a fan of multiple streams of revenue ever since I started hating my one, single W-2 job.

Even with my emergency savings account, I detested the idea of one person or one entity dictating my cash flow.

If you’re like me, or simply want to make more money on the side, here are seven recommendations for you to increase your income without getting another job.

Update your W-4.

The only thing I detest more than relying on someone else for all my income is giving The United States Government an interest-free loan.

Can I get a “Hell yeah?”

I’m sure I heard something.

Too many of us give Uncle Sam too many interest-free loans between April 15th and April 15th year after year. The IRS reported that it refunded $125 billion in tax refunds last year in 2015 with an average refund of $3,120.

A great start to seeing more money in your budget without getting a second W-2 is to update your W-4. Increase the number of allowances you claim on your W-4 so that you owe or are owed near $0.

You’ll keep more of your paycheck each month, resulting in better cash flow. Sometimes that matters more than whether or not you get a tax refund.

Sell stuff.

Most of us have more stuff than we need. Try watching Minimalism: A Documentary about the Important Things and tell me you don’t agree. Consequently, stores are bigger and cars are bigger and TVs are bigger, and everything is bigger.

Many of us have tools and exercise equipment we don’t use. We have clothes we bought a year ago that still have their tags.

Most of us have more gadgets than we know we have or need. When I got my first laptop, it was special. When we got our first iPad, it was special. For this article, I did a quick search, and my household of two has three laptops and two tablets. Laptops and tablets aren’t special anymore.

This overabundance is an opportunity to make money. All of these items, new and used, can be sold. You can sell used clothes on sites like Tradesy and Material World. Sell new clothes and gadgets on eBay, Facebook Marketplace, and Amazon.

Get a roommate.

A quarter of a million millennials live at home with their moms and dads. That sucks for them, but it’s an opportunity for you. If you have an extra-large closet, you can rent it to someone in need of independence. That may be an exaggeration, and it may be illegal, but you get my point.

People need a place to live and rent’s expensive. Having one or more roommates will either increase your income or decrease your expenses. Either way, you’ll have more money.

Airbnb.

If you don’t want a full-time roommate but have the space for an occasional guest, try Airbnb or competing marketplaces to make money on your extra space. Alternatives to Airbnb include VRBO, Tripping, and Couch Surfing.

After a vetting process, you can rent your extra space to travelers looking for a homier or a more affordable experience than a hotel. You can pick and choose what dates to rent your space, so you’re not constantly hosting. When you travel away from home, you can make money while you’re away.

This is a great way to make more money. And other areas of the sharing economy, including driving for rideshare businesses while you run errands, can be a good way to make a few extra bucks.

Blog.

My name is John Schneider and I’m a blogger. You should be a blogger, too. I think most people could make money blogging about their expertise, their hobby, or whatever they want.

I think most people could make money blogging about their expertise, their hobby, or whatever they want.

When you start a blog and create a following, your site traffic is money. You can monetize your site with affiliate advertising, such as Google Adsense, and Amazon.com affiliate codes. You can add particular affiliates that are appropriate for your particular niche. You can even sell your products and services.

If you make art, design clothes, are into woodworking, or do any number of creative things, you can monetize your hobby and sell your creations in a store on your website. If you already have a hobby, you may as well make money doing it.

Take surveys.

Data is king in these days of statistics and algorithms. Businesses and organizations want to know more things about more stuff.

Use their piqued interests to make top dollar. Rather than scrolling through Facebook or Twitter, go to sites like My Survey, Swagbucks, and others to earn money taking surveys.

Write a book.

This suggestion may be another version of monetizing a hobby, but Les Brown says that the graveyard is filled with a library of unwritten books.

With sites such as Smashwords and Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, it’s never been easier to publish a book. If you’re already writing or want to be a writer, publish your book.

Granted, for every story you read about a self-published author who rakes in $500,000 a year, there are thousands of stories of self-published authors who make nothing.

As a self-published author of three books, I know from experience that it isn’t easy. There is a social strategy, though, to get one book in front of a lot of people or gain a following by self-publishing books regularly.

As co-blogger Miranda Marquit would caution, don’t self-publish a book through a company that needs an unreasonable amount of money from you first.

If you’re already writing or want to be a writer, you may as well try to earn some money. If nothing else, you can tell your next date that you’re a published author.

These are just seven ways to have a second, third, or fourth income without needing an equal number of jobs. It just takes a little creative thinking. Hopefully one of more of these ideas will help you increase your income or, at least, inspire ideas of your own to make more money.

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O.K. That seems a little crazy. But does it really matter how messed up it is if you make some extra money?

Whether you want to pay off debt, save for a new car or travel around the world, one of the best ways to fulfill your financial goals is to earn more money.

But if you’ve asked for a raise or tried to look for a new job without success, it might be time to start a side hustle.

A side hustle can help you earn money while allowing you to maintain your regular job. Plus, many of these gigs have flexible hours so you can work around the schedule you have at your real job.

If you need more money, you can ramp up the work. If you want to take a break, you can do that too.

And if you’re ready to make bank, you might be surprised at how many strange niches you can fill. Here are some of the weird side gigs you can do and still make decent money:

Give plasma.

I started selling my plasma in college when I was a senior.

Graduation was near, and I needed money so I could afford to stay in town while doing an unpaid internship.

It was easy work. Lay down, get poked with a needle and sit for an hour while the machines collect your plasma. The room was cold, and even though I never did anything productive while I was in the chair, I made decent money.

Most plasma centers offer between $20 and $50 per donation and some even provide bonuses if you come at least a certain amount per month. They usually require that you weigh at least 110 pounds and have no major health issues.

Sell used underwear.

Ever have a pair of used panties that you throw away because they’re too small or because they have holes in them?

Instead of tossing those undies, try selling them online. There’s a huge market for used underwear.

It’s true.

Costs can range from $30 to $75 depending on the type of underwear, how long you’ve worn it and whether you’re willing to include photos of you wearing it. Some girls buy briefs in bulk so they can maximize their profit.

Everyone has their thing. If you aren’t creeped out at the thought of someone drooling over your undies, this can be a legit way to make money.

Yard sales.

When was the last time you went to a yard sale? If you’ve been to one recently, you were probably looking for something you could buy for yourself. But some people go to yard sales to shop for items they can resell elsewhere.

It might seem like a little bit normal in terms of other weird side gigs you could be doing, but going to yard sales as a business can still raise a few eyebrows.

Your possible profit depends on what you find, the condition it’s in, if you can fix it, and what it’s worth now. Finding a Waterford crystal vase is unlikely, but you can score some kid’s football gear that can be resold.

Rent out a room on Airbnb.

Many people have made renting out their house on Airbnb a successful side hustle. But most do it when they’re on vacation or if they move out.

What about renting out a room while you live there?

It seems a little weird to let strangers hang with you while you’re at home, but it’s a way you can make money all the time — not just when you’re out of town.

Having a boarder was common a few decades ago, when being single meant you couldn’t afford a whole apartment or house. Nowadays, you can rent out a spare room, air mattress, or couch on Airbnb and similar sites.

Depending on your location, city, and amenities, you can make more than $100 a night.

Not bad for one of those weird side gigs that requires you to entertain complete strangers.

Thumbtack.

Everyone has a skill. Some people like dog sitting, others are champion green thumbs. No matter what you specialize in, you can find a gig on Thumbtack.

Thumbtack is a hub for anyone peddling a skill. My husband found his piano teacher on Thumbtack by posting what he was looking for. I found suggestions for house cleaners.

To start working, you have to create a profile and respond to jobs when they’re posted.

It can be hard to get started if you have no reviews, so I recommend charging low prices until you get a few solid testimonials. It sucks, but you can start raising your prices as soon as you are recognized as an expert.

Online surveys.

This option is best if you work at a job with computer access and lots of downtime, or if you want something to do at home besides browse Netflix.

I did this while I was paying off my student loans until I found more profitable freelance work.

I used a Reddit forum to find the best surveys, usually $1 for a few minutes. This sounds paltry, and it was. But there are no requirements for startup money, no huge time sink, and no restrictions.

According to Amazon’s reports, I made $242 in 2012. If you work a job where you have lots of downtime and computer access, it’s not a bad way to earn a few bucks.

Plus, there are ways to make even more if you join a site like Inspired Opinions. Sometimes, you can qualify to take part in focus groups for $50 to $75 an hour.

Sell advertising space on your car.

Ever seen those cars with tacky ads plastered all over them?

Well, some of those are business owners trying to drive their brands, but sometimes it’s regular people trying to make a buck. Carvertise is one startup that pairs companies with eligible drivers.

In the realm of weird side gigs, this one can be a bit taxing. After all, your car is an extension of who you are. It’s hard to plaster it with ads.

You have to be at least 21, drive 800 miles a month, and have a 2005 car or newer. According to the FAQ, you could make $100 a month.

That’s not bad, for just doing what you normally do around town.

What other interesting ways have you heard of to make money? Let us know about your favorite weird side gigs in the comments, or by visiting the #Adulting community on Facebook.

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Eva Baker from Teens Got Cents and The Teenpreneur Conference shares how being an entrepreneur while in school gives you valuable skills.

Once in a while, we present Adulting.tv LIVE! Subscribe on YouTube to hear about future events, and share your questions about or suggestions for our next discussions!

Show Notes

Eva Baker from Teens Got Cents and The Teenpreneur Conference join Harlan and Miranda today to talk about the experience of being an entrepreneur while in high school and/or college, and why entrepreneurship is an important piece of educational development.

Watch the live video above or listen to just the podcast audio by using the player below.

Hosted byMiranda Marquit
Produced byadulting.tv
Edited and mixed bySteven Flato
Music bybensound.com

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Trying to figure out what to sell online? An online sales business can change your lifestyle.

Once in a while, we present Adulting.tv LIVE! Subscribe on YouTube to hear about future events, and share your questions about or suggestions for our next discussions!

Today, Harlan and Miranda are joined by Steve Chou from My Wife Quit Her Job. On this episode of Adulting.tv LIVE! we will discuss finding the best product to start an e-commerce business. Selling products online can be a great way to earn a living.

Steve carries both a bachelors and a masters degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University. Despite majoring in electrical engineering, he spent a good portion of his graduate education studying entrepreneurship and the mechanics of running small businesses. He currently works for a startup company in the Silicon Valley.

Watch the video above or listen to just the audio by using the player below.

Hosted byHarlan Landes and Miranda Marquit
Produced byadulting.tv
Edited and mixed bySteven Flato
Music bybensound.com

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Hustle Away Debt strikes a good balance, and the author shares what he learned from experience.

Over the next several months, I’ll be reading and reviewing a number of books that can help you with your finances, career, work/life balance, and all the facets of life that comprise #adulting. Welcome to the Books for Adults series.

While I’m not 100% on board with the self-improvement genre and gurus as gospel, I do believe that they offer some insights or tricks to make life easier or provide a “hey, I never thought of it that way” moment.

Up first for review is Hustle Away Debt: Eliminate Your Debt by Making More Money by David Carlson. David is the founder of Young Adult Money, and the book (and the site) is a result of the approach he and his wife took to pay off their massive student loan debt. He maintains that it’s not always possible to cut expenses but it is always possible to earn more money.

This extra money, derived from side hustling, is what you can use to ramp up your debt repayment or savings.

However, this isn’t just a “you need to side hustle” book. For those who’ve already decided they want to, or those who are on the fence, it reads like a comprehensive handbook or manual. Not only does the book provide an objective view of side hustling, covering both the pros and cons as well as dozens of easy to implement ideas, it provides a roadmap for how to start a side hustle.

The author guides you, step by step, even giving helpful information and instruction on the back-end tasks like taxes, improving your 9-to-5 performance, and seizing opportunity.

For those who are overwhelmed by the idea of a side hustle, this book breaks it down into small, simple steps. You can probably start a side job doing something you’re already doing!

But he also recognizes that having a side hustle isn’t for everyone and asks that you look at your motivations and circumstances for starting one. You might realize it’s not a good fit and that’s fine.

While the book comprehensively looks at both sides of side hustling, the best part is David’s tone. He strikes a balance between motivation and encouragement without making the reader feel like having a side hustle is something they absolutely, 100% need to do; he admits there are benefits to a full-time job that a side job cannot provide.

For the reader who doesn’t want to surrender working full-time, that’s helpful to hear. Beyond that, David asks the reader to look at their finances. Rather than berate or condescend to the reader who might be in debt, he accepts that it’s a fact for many people, including him and his wife, and provides a plan for taking control of their money that doesn’t involve selling everything they own, giving up their Dunkin Donuts coffee, or living a spartan existence.

Books like this, when they’re derived from personal experience, provide more value to the reader than books from experts who’ve never been there. There’s a level of understanding and practicality that you don’t always find, especially when you feel like the author is talking to you instead of at you and with a tone that doesn’t insult your intelligence.

These are the important Adulting takeaways.

  • Before starting your side hustle, define your “why.” Without your “why,” it’s almost impossible to sustain.
  • It’s possible to turn anything into a side hustle, even if you’re stuck at a desk 40 hours per week, if you use a little creativity.
  • Side hustles provide diversified income, can help protect your finances in the event of a job loss, and can help you get ahead.
  • A side hustle does not have to convert to a full-time job; in fact, there are benefits to a full-time job a side gig cannot provide.
  • There are tangible and intangible benefits to side hustling including time management, learning to prioritize, and skill building.
  • Look at all facets of your circumstances (for example, time, relationships, employment, finances) before deciding to side hustle then determine what kind you should implement.
  • Side hustles do not have to be permanent. They can provide a temporary boost in income for debt or savings and, once you’ve achieved those goals, you can let the side hustle go.
David Carlson

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